A Fresh Start?

OK!

How about a collaborative effort to actually propose an objective decision matrix for re-opening face to face in person instruction?

We can of course use quantitative gates as well as qualitative gates. For example, no ventilation and filtration data is an absolute stopper, while available data could indicate that certain kinds of usage would be available.

PPE can be scored. Gowns, PAPRs, gloves and decon unit all prepped with staff practiced in full usage? Full marks! No PPE? Well, no score.

And in no case does an ASD administrator get to input a subjective score (a la the mess presently known as the current matrix,lol!)

You put it ALL in a publicly available tool (like Google sheets) so everyone can see the various inputs and how they are analyzed and evaluated.

Et voila! Instead of hot air we have a hard function.

You’d think the district having already done tens of hours of the most advanced study (sounds just like Trumpettes, doesn’t it) that such a tool would be at hand, and the fact that we have to start from scratch should tell us a thing or three.

So what is the greatest impediment? Here are my case notes:

Case No. 2020-576/b

Mark Stock on Objective Criteria

Mendacious Mark was at the top of his game at this week’s Board meeting, talking down to, well everyone, because they could not understand that it was impossible to adopt an objective criteria for school opening.

Of course, he was putting on airs because most everything he said was false.

In fact just a few weeks ago ASD had a very workable objective matrix that everyone fully understood and which worked just fine.

What Mark was really arguing is that objective criteria would prohibit his boss Dr. Deena, “the DeVosserRaptor”, from engaging in arbitrary and capricious conduct that could get thousand killed and who knows how many subject to as yet unknown long term disabilities.

Indeed, we could develop a very effective and transparent objective decision matrix pretty quickly. But that would of course mean that the Administration would have to come back to the community every time they wanted to deviate from it, AS WELL THEY SHOULD!

While Stock is a bloviating hack and could be expected to do what he was hired to do (did you notice the cute little game he and Deena played at the Board meeting referring to each other as Doctor – like watching the 3 Stooges) what is inexcusable if watching the Board get buffaloed

Rollercoaster in Anchorage

A number of people have suggested that as teachers “got what they wanted” (Superintendent Bishop finally relented over reopening the schools to face-to-face instruction) we should all just move on.

Let’s be clear.

Teachers did not get what they want.

Teachers want sane leadership that is concerned for the health and welfare of the community.

Teachers want evidence-based data-driven analysis not rhetoric and mendacity.

Teachers want to teach without endangering their students, their student’s families, or themselves.

Teachers don’t need to be told how and when to sacrifice.

And teachers don’t want to have to invoke a contract clause that says that can’t be required to that which is unsafe.

Teachers want to serve the public good, and want to work for people who feel the same way.

Cycletracks and the 85th Percentile

All modern transportation design guides addressing urban transportation, in an attempt to protect all persons of “all ages and abilities” while maintaining “flexibility”, require the use of cycletracks where there is an arterial or “connector” and the speed of the vehicles is over 30 miles per hour. That’s a lot to unpack. What we are really saying is that when you have car volumes as you see in most major urban locales for connectors, and those cars are moving at over 30 mph, it is critical that bicycle users on such roads be physically protected from automobiles.

Cycle tracks are, in gross terms, bicycle lanes that are protected from motorized traffic by physical barriers. The barriers could be lanterns, bollards, curbs (continuous or or not) etc. Painted “buffers” are not cycletracks, although many design apologists argue they provide “protection”, hence the rise of so much confusion as to what anyone might mean by “protected bike lanes”. The best practice is to use the terminology found in the design guide you reference. Hence the use here of cycletrack, which is the term employed by NACTO.

Confusion is further engendered because design apologists have suggested that if a road is posted 30 mph, it needs no cycletrack. Those folk have missed the “fine print” as it were, in that even the FHWA points out that the speed relied on in addressing the appropriate infrastructure is operating, NOT posted speed. So what do they mean by operating speed. In most cases they mean 85th percentile speed of all traffic. The 85th percentile marks the speed at which 85% of the traffic is doing that speed or slower. By way of example. If you have 100 motorists on a street, and 85 of them went 40 mph, 10 of them went 45 mph, and 5 of them went 50 mph, the 85th percentile would be 40 mph. Let’s assume that this street is posted at 30 mph. We can then see that 100% of the traffic exceeds the speed limit. 85% of the traffic traveled at 133% of the speed limit, and the 85th percentile is at 133% of the speed limit.

The fact is that most people do NOT travel at or below the speed limit. Indeed, it is rare that you don;t find someone traveling at least 5 mph over, in no small part because everyone figures that no officer is going to give you a ticket for going 5 mph over the speed limit. Historically traffic engineers RAISED speed limits to match the 85th percentile, and, as a result, the speed limit on Northern Lights was raised from 40 to 45 (though we saw numerous cases of people losing control of their vehicles at 40 mph). Soon thereafter the speed of traffic on Northern Lights rose, and now we see traffic moving along Northern lights at 60 mph (133% of the posted speed limit).

Is that 133% some magic number? Is the 85 percentile speed always going to be the speed of 85% of the vehicles? No. In quite a few cases where the posted speed is 30 mph we see speeds of 150%, and typically the less traffic the fewer cars are going to have synchronous speeds. But it seems that most people have no problem doing 45 on a connector, or 60 on a street to be divided highway like Northern Lights. It’s typically a matter of the driver’s perception of what is appropriate in the circumstances, as opposed to a driver’s compliance with signals.

Indeed, that is one reason why traffic engineers keep raising speed limits; they know that since people do not comply, the only way to keep people within any reasonable approximation of speed limits is to constantly raise the limits. This is not true everywhere. In places like Finland traffic speeds have been reduced to 50 km on connectors and 30 km on residential streets and speed limits are ENFORCED. More and more places are using “day fines” (fines based on the individual’s daily earnings so that no one is left with the feeling that speeding is just a matter of paying a nominal fine). Finland has all but eliminated death or injury from motor vehicles.

The NTSB indicated that the most effective ways to address injuries to bikers and pedestrians is infrastructure properly designed (something we, in Alaska, have NEVER DONE), and ASE (automated speed enforcement), which Anchorage has historically viewed as an unwarranted intrusion on the freedom to kill and maim.

In Anchorage, the common wisdom is that traffic signalling is advisory only. As a result, there being virtually no enforcement, the only way to implement appropriate traffic design to protect bicyclists on roads where traffic exceeds 30 mph is physical barriers. Unfortunately, though local designers give lip service to “Vision Zero” and the like, we have no cycletrack.  In fact even the sidewalks are designated as snow storage. And while northern cities in North American and Europe seem to manage snow and cycletracks just fine, you will not see any cycletracks in Anchorage because designers will make sure they are never built. Apparently, they argue, we are not quite ready to stop killing and maiming pedestrians and bicyclists.

I posed that question to the Assembly here once. How many bodies do we need to count until we do something about this. They would not give me a number, and mumbled something about how unfortunate it is. They then essentially patted us on the head and told us to go back and play in the traffic.

Moose Poop: a Note to the Assembly

The Anchorage Park Foundation (APF) is on the warpath yet again. Last month they released a Google Forms petition that asked just about everyone (but elected officials) to spend money to create something already there (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfYlTdg36Z0ttJ2DAwemCgVp7IROOHni-2xBEh7GizRIHaH3Q/viewform), and I’d like to spend a few of your moments addressing why this is another bad idea.

Who and What

The petition is not addressed to elected officials, but to various MOA staff and to AMATS, which underscores probably the biggest problem we have with transportation infrastructure in Anchorage: planners are not accountable to the public. Specifically, the petition is addressed to

* Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) Policy Committee
* Anchorage Project Management and Engineering
* Anchorage Parks and Recreation
* Anchorage Traffic
* AMATS Staff

and, after some self-aggrandizement (more on that below) the petition makes the following request:

We urge you to allocate funding for a public process to determine a preferred alternative for a safer crossing at this important intersection and work together on a wayfinding plan to make this unique and lovable trail system a destination for all.

One small problem…

A Crossing Already Exists

Yes, a safe crossing has been in place there for decades. A block and a half south of where the creek flows under Lake Otis Blvd is a tunnel. Yes, a nice wide tunnel, much nicer than anything one would see down by Westchester Lagoon. And that raises a handful of very important questions! Questions nowhere visible in the petition!

It gets better, of course. It turns out that the tunnel lies on a line between where the trail comes from and where it goes to; in other words, the trail goes out of its way to a crossing that will never exist, as opposed to taking the route that would employ the existing tunnel.

But take heart!!! Though things would have been simpler to align all those years ago, it is still relatively easy to fix the problem. And yes, I intend to keep you, Reader, hostage as long as I can.

Deplorable Design?

So why would someone design a trail that eschewed the only viable crossing? There are a number of possibilities, but most of them reflect the kind of critical view that most in government are allergic to, so let’s look at giving the question a more positive spin, and that suggests two possibilities.

The first is that at the time no one saw multi-use trails as transportation corridors (lame, yes, but not as negative as most explanations…). Arguably the Campbell Creek Trail would be just that: a narrow band of asphalt that would run the length of Campbell Creek. Of course, who would have expected that another trail following a major water course would be so popular that we would spend almost $1,000,000 redoing it (but not making it any wider over much of its course).  Well, the truth is LOTS of PEOPLE understood that the design was inadequate, but who listens to the public???

The second argument, I suppose, is the “build it and they will come” magical thinking bit that we bought in the movie theaters. The trail followed the creek, and eventually the MOA would have to widen the bridge over the creek to included a bike trail (as money was no object…). Yes, there are such tunnels in some locations, but though the nearby corner has been rebuilt over, and over, and over, and over again, and though we opine mightily about “non-motorized plans” and supporting non-motorized users of our municipal infrastructure, “they came”, but without the buckets of cash needed to build a bridge, or another tunnel.

The truth is that we are never going to build a bridge over Lake Otis at the Creek, and with all the other demands on diminishing (already gone?) funding, who in their right mind would build ANOTHER tunnel under a six lane highway? Can you spell BOONDOGGLE? But what, you ask, is wrong with APF trying to hustle a little interest?

Undermining the Public Process

One of the biggest problems here is that once again APF is subverting a complex and comprehensive process whereby communities feed their capital improvement project requests through the municipal system. Indeed, what APF “does best” is bypass all that by getting a direct appropriation from the State, and thereby making a virtual mockery of the all the work that all the “little people” invest in trying to push their respective projects forward. But, you exclaim, APD is a private, non-profit, non-membership corporation, so how does it have such an outside effect on government?  Well, the answer to that is the partnership scheme that was brought to bear for Parks in Anchorage, which makes partners more important than the public. Money talks.

Yes, I can provide multiple examples of how APF has tried to run roughshod over the public, but since I am trying to keep this short, and some Assembly members get positively red in the face when Ms. Nordlund’s name comes up, we can set that aside for now. But I am happy to appear at any Assembly or Administration work session to discuss such matters…

But back to Moose. People have been riding the loop around Anchorage for years. As part of their little self-promotional branding efforts, APF started calling the loop, The Moose, and started promoting an “initiative”, which in part also celebrated APF accomplishments, while issues that APF does not want to address “under the carpet”  (e.g. “celebrating” Pine St., which has accomplished nothing, while ignoring Boniface and RJSP – safer routes needing extensive work but ignored for decades).

The Fix

What can be done (to address the crossing issue)? Well, for starters, we can ignore APF’s rhetoric and misdirection. We can inexpensively address the current access to Folker from Campbell Creek trail, and create a sharrow to 52nd and the tunnel on the East side of Lake Otis. On the West side we simply need to create a sharrow down Waldron to Cache. And at the tunnel itself, we need only remove the stairs and existing ramp and replace with shallower ramps on both sides. All told the few trail tweaks and the ramps would run substantially less than $50K and does not need “study” so much as some nitty gritty design work: design work that should have been done decades ago and a bit of engineering.

Most importantly, with all the critical infrastructure needs we have, these fixes are NOT critical. Period. I rode the path described above last week and it is MUCH better than a good deal of the “Moose” not being complained of! Let me be blunt: NOT NOW. Identify the fixes, put them in a plan and pass it about for comment – and then put it on the CIP list somewhere near the bottom.

Yes we need wayfinding, but APF and P&R ignored public comment on wayfinding, and as a result the little bit that is in place is disappointing and substandard. The truth is, as I noted above, that while we provide everyone with lots of Opportunities to be heard, no one ever actually listens to anything said, nor does anyone ever make any changes as a result of any testimony on any project. Indeed, on a recent project where State funding was killed because APF made such a shambles of the grant (the public DID try to make suggestions, but APF and P&R simply ignored every suggestion made), an MOA Assembly member thereupon ran about claiming that I killed the project off. Really? Considering how much pull I have with you lot, you know how pathetic such an allegation is, but there you go.

Still Here

No, I could not address everything there is to say about any of this here. But lucky you, if you want to hear more all you need to do is ask. No, the various persons/parties being petitioned won’t ask, because they don’t see that as in their brief. They don’t “solve”problems, they kick them down the high speed, incredibly dangerous (and unresponsive to NTSB or FWHA guidance) roads…

Testimony and Document Request Re High Risk Covid Instruction

Approbation and Admonition

 

I am sure we are all obliged to Dr. Bishop and her leadership team for keeping the health and safety of students, staff, and families front and center when addressing critical action impacting the entire community (and, in point of fact, the entire state).

That is in no small part why it is really so easy to request, under the Alaska Public Records Act, the documentation (as detailed below in the incorporate request) regarding building safety with respect to airborne viral contagion, that Dr. Bishop and her team have already undoubtedly compiled, as well the additional documentation demonstrating that the recent decision is not arbitrary and capricious, nor a response to political pressure.

As most everyone in the community is now aware, simple distancing of six feet in outside and open spaces might offer minimal protection from infection by droplet, but distancing to address primary spray becomes just one of many concerns when one considers appropriate prevention and mitigation for interior spaces where aerosols 1​​ may be appear, as Alexandra Feathers has noted. We know (as does the President 2​​ ) that SARSCoV2 is a potentially deadly airborne virus. 3 ​​​​ Ventilation is now a critical concern for all the U.S. as made very clear by Elizabeth Gardner’s piece in the USNews. Nor are such concerns, when the topic of current NAS (National Academies of Science) workshops, simply to be ignored as hysteria or panicked overreaction of the lay person.

Dr Bishop has repeatedly suggested that Covid case counts are dropping. The truth is, as anyone who can read the State’s Covid Dashboard knows, that case counts continue to indicate high risk levels, ​​ and ​​ we continue to see major spikes. And yet ASD would have 4000+ adults, 40,000+ children, and everyone indirectly threatened by contact with them, agree that risk in ancient school buildings is an order of magnitude less than in retail establishments, bars, or elsewhere. Yes, employing the ​​ “DeVoss Directives” 4​​ risk matrix forced on CDC by the “Misrepresenter-in-Chief” (see fn2) requires a Covid count almost ten times that employed by the State and Municipality to adjust appropriate public behavior!

The green line in the image above (taken from the Alaska DHHS Covid Dashboard) represents the Municipality of Anchorage high risk level case count which poses risks of “widespread community transmission with many undetected cases and frequent discrete outbreaks.” Risk levels have been “high” for months.

It is obvious, even to those most resistant to STEM and modern epidemiology, that ALL occupied areas of the school must be at least fully ventilated to meet Code requirements at the time it was built or major remodel/upgrade. This means that closets turned into offices, and rooms partitioned without mechanical review, and the like, undoubtedly do not pass muster. Changes in operations and maintenance as well as management and funding for O&M impact existing systems, and typically render adequacy of mechanical and HVAC systems dubious at best. ​​ Systems must be evaluated during normal occupied hours of operations under expected use conditions for any assessment to even approach adequacy. ​​ And all that data must be SHARED.

Unfortunately, it appears that most ASD staff are doubtful 5​​ about building safety under the “new” plan (which eschews relatively objective standards adopted by the State), and have sincere doubts that ASD can safeguard anyone’s health and safety at present. These concerns are, naturally enough, bolstered by the intimate knowledge staff have of the myriad building maintenance issues they already confront, and the lack of any comprehensive offering by the District that ASD leadership is, in fact, addressing those very real problems. 6​​ Increasing reports that ASD Administrators are alreadying bullying teachers into 3’ instead of 6’ separation and otherwise trying to push staff into potentially inappropriate conduct does not in any way reduce those concerns.

The fact of the matter is that ASD has a long history of viewing Alaska State statutory and/or regulatory mandates as largely “advisory”.7 As a result, even in the best of times, no one really believes ASD is fully in compliance with all the pertinent legal mandates. But this is not the best of times; this is a time when we comply with a variety of State and Local mandates issued to protect the public from a dangerous virus during a pandemic which is killing tens of thousands of Americans.

In sum, the community may wish it could put its faith in Dr. Bishop, but that is simply impossible where her actions run contrary to accepted science, appear to be responsive to national political manipulation, and are supported merely by unfounded aspiration, especially where ASD can offer little but hollow promises.8 No changes should be made to the initial plan (which, in as much as it was approved by the Board, implicitly had at least some community support) until ALL the considerations involved have been fully vetted and publicly discussed, a process that could not possibly be completed in the timeline adopted by Bishop. To that end, for the purposes of promoting effective and comprehensive public review and discussion of the documents which would arguably direct such policy, I am requesting, and as noted above, hope the Board joins in that request, the documents discussed below.

 

Public Records Request

 

In order to assure the Administration the greatest opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy and adequacy of the current HVAC/mechanical systems in the district, which covers buildings that should have been torn down decades ago, to buildings recently constructed I am hereby requesting that ASD make available for public inspection and copying the materials identified below.

In as much as it is often the practice of institutions to overestimate the cost of production so as to chill requests and obstruction distribution of information to the public, I am also hereby requesting that The Board direct the Superintendent to publish the requested data on the ASD website such that the entire community can review same and come to their own conclusions as to whether to place their health and welfare, their very lives, in the hands of Dr. Bishop.

A. Please produce for each and every facility of the district:

  • Most recent TAB (Testing, Adjusting, and Balance) reports for the ventilation systems, including air handling units (AHUs), fans, distribution and classroom GRDs (grills, registers, and diffusers); total air supplied to each room and percent of outside air for each AHU for current and winter operations.

  • Inventory or accounting of the AHU filtration currently being used for each AHU, if not noted in the TAB report.

  • All complaints regarding problems with any ventilation system and full details of actions taken in response (turning it off, replacing, ignoring complaints, etc.) for the past five years.

  • All records evidencing compliance with IMC ventilation requirements for the last five years (or when last verified if over five years).

  • Documentation of BAS (building automation system), week long trend of the ventilation status & operating conditions.

B. Please produce all documents purporting to offer an analysis of Covid transmission that recognizes that three foot distancing, as recently stated by ASD and pushed by unit administrators, is adequate for safety of all building occupants, including cites to any research and evaluation thereof relied upon.

C. Please produce all documents that address an analysis of whether the new declared plan will comply with current MOA EOs and State mandates.

D. Please produce all documents evaluating the need for or efficacy of Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) units to afford protection to staff.

E. Please produce all correspondence with anyone the District views as a health expert with a medical credential concerning the criteria, safety, and efficacy of the proposed plan.

F. Please produce the data and ASD’s analysis thereof which shows that the case rate in Anchorage is dropping.

G. Please produce ASD’s analysis regarding replacing objective criteria with subjective criteria for opening schools as to whether use of subjective criteria promotes abuse, discounts science, and creates an unstable environment.

H. Please produce all internal correspondence discussing when and if the Board should be consulted regarding this radical change from a plan the Board approved.

 

 

Marc Grober, Esq.

5610 Radcliff Dr.

Anchorage, AK 99504

marc@interak.com

907-337-5687

​​ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

CDC. “Communities, Schools, Workplaces, & Events.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 30, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/indicators.html.

———. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Transmission.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 21, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html.

“COVID-19: Alert Levels.” Accessed September 21, 2020. http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/alertlevels.aspx.

Elfrink, Tim, Ben Guarino, and Chris Mooney. “CDC Reverses Itself and Says Guidelines It Posted on Coronavirus Airborne Transmission Were Wrong.” Washington Post. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/21/cdc-covid-aerosols-airborne-guidelines/.

International Code Council. “International Mechanical Code,” 2012. https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IMC2012/chapter-4-ventilation.

Kapust, Patrick J. “Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/updated-interim-enforcement-response-plan-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” n.d., 35. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

Peccia, Jordan. “Aerosols vs. Droplets: In Transmitting COVID-19, There’s a Big Difference.” Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://seas.yale.edu/news-events/news/aerosols-vs-droplets-transmitting-covid-19-there-s-big-difference.

US News & World Report. “Is Your School’s Air Quality a Risk Factor for COVID-19?” Accessed September 21, 2020. https://health.usnews.com/hospital-heroes/articles/is-your-schools-air-quality-a-risk-factor-for-covid-19.

National Academies of Science. “Airborne Transmission of SARS CoV 2 A Virtual Workshop | National Academies.” Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/08-26-2020/airborne-transmission-of-sars-cov-2-a-virtual-workshop.

STAT. “Why Isn’t Ventilation Part of the Conversation on Reopening Schools?,” August 5, 2020. https://www.statnews.com/2020/08/05/ventilation-part-of-school-reopening-conversation/.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Season 6 Episode 1: 9/14/20 (Bob Woodward, Luke Combs). Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/98tyVseV_QkxxEW_j_N4YJTf9GBIsfZi/the-late-show-9-14-20-bob-woodward-luke-combs-/.

Woodward, Bob. Rage, 2020.

 

 

1

For a video explaining differences between aerosol and droplet concerns see, Jordan Peccia, “Aerosols vs. Droplets: In Transmitting COVID-19, There’s a Big Difference,” Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science, accessed September 21, 2020, https://seas.yale.edu/news-events/news/aerosols-vs-droplets-transmitting-covid-19-there-s-big-difference.

2

The President has admitted as much. See, Woodward and The Late Show.

3

There is no more potent evidence of the political machinations in which the CDC is now involved than the most recent attempt to sanitize CDC recommendations. See, Tim Elfrink, Ben Guarino, and Chris Mooney, “CDC Reverses Itself and Says Guidelines It Posted on Coronavirus Airborne Transmission Were Wrong,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/21/cdc-covid-aerosols-airborne-guidelines/.

 

4

The Secretary of Education has waged a continuous assault on expert medical opinion on health and safety in schools, and has been regularly supported in this endeavor by the President, who has been engaged in political manipulation of CDC to that effect, apparently because he believes using the Administration to misrepresent the facts is appropriate.

5

AEA survey results.

6

Pertinent OSHA and IMC requirements are identified in the Bibliography. Complaints regarding violations of ventilation standards have been filed with ASD in the past.

7

Indeed, ASD recently violated State law in failing to timely respond to an earlier public records request, and compounded its misconduct by misrepresenting the mandates of State regulation regarding teacher qualifications while also attempting to obfuscate with respect to the underlying concerns (whether ASD teachers are teaching within the areas of their expertise).

8

Much of ASD’s Plan amounts to reactive procedures, procedures which, because of the well documented delays in obtaining adequate data, will be of little value in protecting those not infected from contracting the virus.

This document created via docxpresso WordPress plugin from an ODT created by the Google Doc shared at https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQLVHPHnVm5m_atUGVhnot_AyopIchFPDsSvs8l3Bp-IwMP76n7d4YOjbCORThVHTN_s1OoLY8zUaXn/pub

Deplorable Design

I am sharing these photos to demonstrate the inadequacy of the designs we have to suffer in Anchorage. The photos are of a tunnel underneath Boniface Parkway in Anchorage, Alaska. The tunnel is part of a required route for students to walk to attend the local Elementary School that sits a few hundred feet from the East side of the tunnel.

What are the issues we see in these photos?

  • The tunnel is not sealed from above, so water seeps into the tunnel from the road bed.
  • The tunnel is not shielded from ice and debris plowed off the road above
  • The ice and debris plowed of the road above piles up at the entrances to the tunnel (not shown here is a photo from some years ago where the snow wall created by the plowing covered half the height of the tunnel).
  • The tunnel is at the lowest point of the trail on the West end, meaning that it serves as the sump for all water.
  • There is a drain to the storm sewer a few feet to the East of the tunnel entrance on the East side, but that is frozen over half the year.
  • As you can see, melt from outside the tunnel solely covers the entire tunnel eventually rendering the entire surface glassy.
  • And, not seen in this photo, the lack of any trail lighting on the West side though this has been in the Master Plan for this area for DECADES.

Are there any reasons that these issues could not have been avoided? Two: a) failure to produce an adequate design, and/or b) refusal to fund an adequate design.

Recall Dunleavy Volunteer Packet!

If you are too impatient to read on, skip to the packet below by clicking here.

Most Alaskans I think understood that there would be recall fever as soon as petitions were available, which is why it was so important that rollout by the organizing group be impeccably planned in advance. Well, let’s just say that their hearts are definitely in the right place and they are moving forward.

In the interim, I have been able to secure the volunteer packet (which, YES, does include petition forms). It apparently was distributed to some persons under the e-mail appended below from Meda Dewitt (my link to the packet appears below that). The font choice is mine to separate this post from DeWitt’s e-mail.

Additionally I am informed and believe that packets will be available at the AFL-CIO Offices in Anchorage on Monday.

Go get some signatures!

___________

For new signature gathering volunteers that you have recruited who want to start gathering signatures. Or if you would like to know more about the process. Please have them read the Volunteer guide and attend the webinar at 1pm this afternoon. If they are unable to attend, that is ok, we will be recording this session so that they can access it with a link at a later time.

Thank you! Meda

__________

Good Evening Fellow Alaskans,

First and foremost I would like to thank you for your patience. This process is moving quickly and there is a tremendous amount of energy behind the Recall of Michael J. Dunleavy from the office of Governor of Alaska.

Please see the attached compressed folder, in it you will find:

– Volunteer Guide. Please read it thoroughly and ask all of your volunteers to also read.

– Recall Signature form. Most important document, print double sided, do not alter.

– Statement of Legal Grounds for the Recall of Dunleavy.

– Recall Legal Memo. This explains the legal grounds. (We know there is a typo. I promised this email for no later than today, will send the updated one tomorrow.)

– An open letter from Co-Chairs Joseph E. Usibelli and Peggy Shumaker to Alaskans.

– Volunteer Sign up sheet. Please don’t confuse this with the official signature sheet.

Recall Dunleavy will be hosting a webinar/call in session tomorrow for any questions and general check-ins from around the state on how everything is going. Please read the attached documents before the webinar, it is quite comprehensive.

Thank you,

Meda DeWitt, Chair of Recall Dunleavy

P.S. You may get duplicates of the email, because I will be sending it out to different threads and replies to make sure it gets to the people who need it. Thank you for your continued patience.

Recall Dunleavy Volunteer Q and A session

Sat, Aug 3, 2019 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM AKDT

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/896701869

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (646) 749-3112

Access Code: 896-701-869

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/896701869
.

 Click for Recall Dunleavy Volunteer packet

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No Pledge, No Anthem, No Chauvinism

A Letter to the Anchorage School Board regarding the proposal to force Anthem Listening
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Dear Board,

Once again it would appear that Mr. Donley 1 promotes a bizarre and inappropriate “solution” to address an as yet unrealized problem.

I initially supposed that Mr. Donley felt that a full and comprehensive study of our unsingable US National Anthem  — only adopted in 1931 for the purposes of promoting Maryland —  a product of plagiarism from a tune known far and wide as a celebrating drinking song, the lyrics of which were written by a racist observer of a bombardment that was the result of ludicrous policy implemented by the Jeffersonians, leading to a war that no one in their right mind wanted, that was a huge embarrassment to the US —  should rightfully be the subject of study by public school students for the purpose of increasing national cohesion through an appreciation of American exceptionalism. 2

NOT SO! Mr. Donley wrote that all he wants is to play the National Anthem, without apparently addressing any of the odious aspects thereof, and ignoring the invitation thereby to all our students to “take a knee” during its playing. Excuse me, but it really sounds like Mr. Donley is looking to create not only a problem, but a basis upon which to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees. I wasn’t aware we had that money to burn.

Mr. Donley says he is concerned about history and civics, and yet he seems not to have learned anything about either. Mr. Justice Frankfurther once expounded opinions much like those promoted by Mr. Donley 3 If you did not know who the author was, you might be forgiven for thinking it was Himmler…

National unity is the basis of national security. * * * The ultimate foundation of a free society is the binding tie of cohesive sentiment. Such a sentiment is fostered by all those agencies of the mind and spirit which may serve to gather up the traditions of a people, transmit them from generation to generation, and thereby create that continuity of a treasured common life which constitutes a civilization. We live by symbols. The flag is the symbol of our national unity, transcending all internal differences, however large, within the framework of the Constitution.

No wonder that opinion lasted only three years.

Whatever Mr. Donley’s delusions of his childhood, flags have rarely been unifying in anything but battle, as flags, like anthems, serve only as litmus tests, and are senseless in a pluralistic society. The US National Anthem signifies the unlawful acts associated with the international hegemony that the US has pursued for decades. It signifies the governmental misconduct with respect to a long list of populations. It signifies repression, at home and abroad. “But not so!”, you cry. But you, living in your Norman Rockwell glass bubble, are not the arbiter of universal reality, and millions of Americans have applauded actions taken during the anthem for the purpose of exercising free speech regarding this country’s horrific abuses (now in the limelight more than ever)!

If you want cohesion, bond over a common understanding of our history, good, bad, AND ugly. Bond over a universal sense of compassion and good will to all (an aesthetic apparently denigrated by both our State and Federal Administrations). Bond over a commitment to education and facing the world and the future intelligently ans rationally (as opposed to attacking teachers, slashing educational budgets, and demeaning academia).

The world Mr. Donley wants to recapture is gone forever, if it ever existed. It is time for Mr. D to either decide to join the 21st Century or be relegated to the trash heap of U.S. History, along with the culture warriors now playing “gubmint” in Juneau. YOU, however, are in the business of educating children. It is high time you got on with that, whether or not Mr. Donley is up to it.

Painting of Anacreontics

Anacreontick’s in full song, by James Gillray (died 1815), published 1801.

Consensus

In a Facebook discussion  1  stemming from Andy Hollman’s posting of Jacob Bera’s recent piece for the AASB 2 questions of the value of one of AkDEED’s experiments in teacher assessment were raised, and as it seemed to me that the discussion was turning away in part from a focus on what Jacob had to say, I thought I would start a thread focused on that alone.

AkDEED, face with continuing concerns with regard to evidence-based certification and assessment of teachers, decided to look at whether a consensus could be produced regarding appropriate praxis. AkDEED enlisted the assistance of hundreds of Master Teachers who then watched hours of videos of teachers teaching, rating performances on multiple scales. These volunteers then reviewed and discussed what they saw, why they rated the video the way they did, and how any differences might be resolved.

Now, the use of videos as a tool for teacher evaluation is widely accepted (it is in fact a major element of National Certification3 ). However, as anyone familiar with the topic will note, the teacher is free to submit any video the teacher wishes, and may redo the video over and over, and even school their students in performing for the video. So one can see that using video is at best fraught and dubious (yet it is one fundamental to one of Jacob’s arguments, but that is for another discussion …)

What I wish to address here, and what I tried to point out there, are some of the premises underlying any evaluation. There are two matters that are particularly of concern: 1) the manner in which any evaluation rubric is established, and 2) the manner in which evaluators (NBPTS uses the terms “assessors”) are qualified. To put that into rather simple language, can we agree on what good teaching is, and can we identify individuals who can sniff that out?

AKDEED adopted an Aristotelian, rather than a Platonic model. In other words, AkDEED thought they would crowdsource from those who would likely really understand the subtleties of educational praxis. We can arguably contrast that with NBPTS, which self-selected persons to set up a system to find those like themselves. I won’t argue the pros or cons of either methodology here; my focus here is on whether one can expect to obtain a consensus from experts on what those experts are supposed to be doing.

In a sense, AKDEED developed a practical exercise in what can be described as a modified Delphi method, running various prompts repeatedly through a group of experts to see if consensus about what good teaching is could be obtained.  Note that this part of the process has little or nothing to do with how the videos were prepared.  The focus is on whether what is being viewed is evidence of good teaching. In fact, such videos are used as part of educational instructional across the country.

The results were problematic. There was little agreement on what good teaching was, and some rather heated arguments about what wasn’t. In as much as the responses to videos were arguably more dependent on a teacher’s philosophy than on the evidence that of course made it just as difficult to grapple with the second horn; it was going to be virtually impossible to get any cadre of evaluators to agree on most anything.

Many teachers will assume that they and their colleagues are all extremely competent, but absent broad opportunities for peer review, those views seem more a collection of prejudices than evidence-based conclusions. I have to consider how teachers are “prepared”, and I see little that argues that first year teachers hired from UAA are by virtue of their degree, competent to teach. Whatever your thoughts about the management of ASD, it would appear that ASD has essentially agreed with me for some time. No, I am not saying that all UAA teachers are useless twits; I am saying that we have little evidence to show that they are competent independent professionals.

I have been inordinately lucky in some respects. I have had many teachers observe my teaching and have been able to observe many teachers across numerous subject areas and levels. Personally I think that is invaluable experience and is why I am a proponent of peer review. But then I see teaching like excellent theater, an approach I think not shared by all that many.

But to return to the focus of this reflection, if teachers can’t develop a consensus, then they are either agreeing that anything goes, or that they will knuckle their forehead to some arbitrary authority (who may be a philosopher king, or a tantrumming tyro.) I am not a fan of Doors 2 and 3.